Posted tagged ‘Music’

Women’s History Month

March 3, 2022

Welcome to Women’s History Month!

It’s time to celebrate key roles and accomplishments mighty women have played in history.

Check out these awesome picture books to see the difference women have made in the lives of many.

From a Small Seed: The story of Eliza Hamilton Find out how Eliza Hamilton, the wife of Alexander Hamilton, established the first private orphanage in New York City.

Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression Dorothea Lange traveled across America and used her camera to document those most affected by the Great Depression.

What Isabella Wanted: Isabella Stewart Gardner Builds a Museum Isabella Stewart Gardner loved art. She traveled the world, collecting extraordinary art pieces. She displayed them in her home which she eventually turned into a museum to share her collection with the public.

On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life Of Emily Dickinson Emily Dickinson, a famous poet, used words that touched and inspired others.

A Voice for the Everglades: Marjory Stoneman Douglas It took the courage of Marjory Stoneman Douglas to speak up to help save the Florida Everglades.

Human Computer: Mary Jackson Engineer Mary Jackson overcame many difficulties to become the first African American engineer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Ablaze with Color: A story of Painter Alma Thomas Alma Thomas, an exceptional artist, was the first Black woman to have her art chosen for the White House collection.

Revolutionary Prudence Wright: Leading the Minute Women in the Fright for Independence You’ve heard of the minutemen, but what about minute women? Prudence Wright formed a group of “minute women” to fight the British who were threatening her Massachusetts community.

Fight of the Century: Alice Paul Battles Woodrow Wilson for the Vote Alice Paul, leader of the suffragette movement, was a thorn in President Woodrow Wilson’s side as she fought with him to create a new amendment that would allow women the right to vote.

Listen: How Evelyn Glennie, A Deaf Girl, Changed Percussion Evelyn Glennie was a musical talent, but when she lost her hearing as a young girl, she didn’t lose her passion to become a musician. Find out how she met the challenge of her hearing loss to create extraordinary music.

Things you can do during Women’s History Month.


October 15, 2020

We Will Rock Our Classmates

Penelope T. rex tends to stand out in a group. Penelope is a dinosaur. Her classmates only see her as a dinosaur, but Penelope is much more than that. She loves all sorts of things, but most of all she loves to play rock ‘n’ roll music on her guitar. Penelope signs up for the school talent show, but she’s nervous. At rehearsal, Penelope freezes and thinks maybe dinosaurs can’t play rock ‘n’ roll. She crosses her name off the list and is resigned to being just a dinosaur. Daddy T. rex steps in and shows Penelope pictures of all the accomplishments by her family and encourages her “to be anything you want to be.” The next day at school, Penelope almost loses her courage to sign up again until a few of her friends ask if they can be in her band. On the night of the talent show, Penelope is as nervous as ever, but she remembers what Daddy T. rex told her and she becomes a rock star. We Will Rock Our Classmates is written and illustrated by the talented Ryan T. Higgins who also wrote the hysterical We Don’t Eat Our Classmates. His newest book doesn’t disappoint. Clever lines referring to dinosaurs and amusing illustrations will keep kids and adults laughing with each page turn.     

National Women’s History Month

March 12, 2020

Throughout history, many achievements made by women have been overlooked.  Advances in science, technology, engineering, arts, math, and social issues are among many of their accomplishments. March is National Women in History Month. It’s a time to celebrate women who have excelled no matter what the odds. They are role models for our younger generation of women, and it’s our responsibility to continue to support and encourage the talents of young girls.

Below are some picture book biographies that demonstrate the amazing contributions of women. Take a look and share these with readers young and old.


The Girl With A Mind For Math:  The Story of Raye Montague


Secret Engineer: How Emily Roebling Built the Brooklyn Bridge


Hedy Lamarr’s Double Life:  Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor


Dorothea Lange:  The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression


Eliza:  The Story of Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton 


Dangerous Jane 


What Miss Mitchell Saw 


Sonia Sotomayor: Turning Pages My Life Story


Maya Lin:  Artist-Architect of Light and Lines Designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial


Born to Swing:  Lil Harden Armstrong’s Life in Jazz


Making Their Voices Heard:  The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe


Her Fearless Run:  Kathrine Switzer’s Historic Boston Marathon


Anybody’s Game:  Kathryn Johnston, the First Girl to Play Little League Baseball




Movin’ to the Music

May 5, 2016

Music speaks to me. When I hear something that makes me want to move to the groove, I find my happy feet.



Jazz Baby did just that. This book is written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie and is a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book. Wheeler’s text and Christie’s illustrations sing to its readers. It’s fast-paced. It has rhythm, rhyme, and a beat that keeps your toes tapping. There’s snap, clap, and singing with a “Doo-Wop-Doo.” Each page turn offers up more fun as family, friends, and neighbors get into the action as the beat goes on. When the song and dance party comes to an end, it’s time for the little jazz baby to sleep. “OH YEAH!”


Another book that is upbeat is Trombone Shorty. It’s a Coretta Scott King Award winner and a Caldecott Honor Book. This is a picture book autobiography written by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews and illustrated by Bryan Collier. Andrews tells how his love of music began when he was a child, living in New Orleans where music was always in the air. He was drawn to brass instruments, and when he found a broken trombone, he made it his. Because the instrument was much bigger than he was, he got the nickname Trombone Shorty. His older brother encouraged him, and he practiced day and night. At a jazz festival, Bo Diddley heard him play his trombone and called him on stage to join him. After that, Trombone Shorty organized his own band and played around New Orleans. He now has a band of his own and has performed with many talented musicians. Even with his success, Trombone Shorty has not forgotten his roots. He started the Trombone Shorty Foundation to make sure the musical history of New Orleans is preserved. His foundation also helps mentor talented music students from New Orleans high schools. This inspiring story accompanied by Collier’s  amazing illustrations is not to be missed.        

Music Is Everywhere

March 24, 2016

March is Music in Our Schools Month. You don’t have to be in school to appreciate music. It’s the perfect cure to lift your spirits. Put some music into your life and get your toes tapping and your fingers snapping.

Have you ever noticed that language has a musical quality? Composed in just the right way, words can be music to your ears. Take a look at these books and listen to their melodies.

 The Man with the Violin written by Kathy Stinson and illustrated by Duš an Petricic, Annick Press

 Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Loyd Moss and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

 The Carnival of the Animals by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Mary GrandPre, and created by Camille Saint-Saens, Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Product Details is for Melody: A Music Alphabet written by Kathy-jo Wargin and Katherine Larson. Sleeping Bear Press

 Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo by John Lithgow and illustrated by Leeza Hernandez, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

 This Jazz Man by Karen Ehrhardt and illustrated by R. G. Roth, HMH Books for Young Readers

Jazz Up the Music Curriculum

October 2, 2014

Music teachers looking to introduce students to jazz and jazz greats might find these picture books a great addition to the curriculum.

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For the youngest set, Charlie Parker played be bop is spare in text, but it’s oh so much fun! The book is written and illustrated by Chris Raschka. His illustrations and text work together to create a lively rhythmic story about Charlie Parker and his saxophone. Rhyme and onomatopoeic words add to the fun of the book.

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For older students, there’s Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa written and illustrated by the award-winning duo of Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney. The story is told from the point of view of “Scat Cat.” He takes us through Ella’s life from the time she was a child to when she found her true calling as The Queen of Scat. Brian Pinkney’s whimsical scratchboard illustrations and Andrea Davis Pinkney’s cool cat language keep readers jiving through the book.

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Pair the above-mentioned book with Skit-Scat Raggedy Cat Ella Fitzgerald written by Roxane Orgill and illustrated by award-winning artist, Sean Qualls, and you have two impressive books about a jazz great. Both books provide back matter for added information and further study.

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Another picture book in the jazz category by the husband/wife team of Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney is Duke Ellington. Brian Pinkney’s illustrations use the same whimsical scratchboard technique as in the Ella Fitzgerald book, and Andrea Davis Pinkney’s lyrical language is music to the readers’ ears as they “Take the “A” Train” through the life of Duke Ellington. Once again, there is back matter for added information.

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In the book, Dizzy, Jonah Winter tells the story of Dizzy Gillespie, beginning from the time he was a poor, young boy living in the Deep South. Dizzy got into fights and broke rules, but when his music teacher gave Dizzy a trumpet, his life changed. The trumpet was his ticket to a better life. Winter tells how Dizzy’s “shenanigans” got him noticed and how he continually broke the rules when it came to using his trumpet to entertain the crowds. Playing with a band in New York, Dizzy puffed his cheeks, created his own BEBOP, and became a jazz sensation. The colorful and imaginative illustrations created by artist, Sean Qualls, bebop along with Winter’s story.

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One more book that features a jazz singer is Mister and Lady Day: Billie Holiday and the Dog Who Loved Her written by Amy Novesky and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton. Lady Day took care of Mister, and Mister took care of Lady Day. Amy Novesky tells how Mister provided the loving support and courage that Billie Holiday needed – especially when she sang at Carnegie Hall. The use of bright colors, collages, and humorous spreads by illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton add an appealing touch to a heart-warming story of a talented singer and her dog.

Are there any more suggestions?

Black History Month

February 21, 2013

I couldn’t let Black History Month pass by without mentioning a wonderful book written by award-winning poet, Arnold Adoff with paintings by the very talented R. Gregory Christie.

Roots and Blues A Celebration is a book filled with poems that speak of the difficult journey of African American slaves and how the joys and sorrows in their lives were intertwined with the rhythm and music of the world around them.


Adoff’s word choice and placement of words create rhythmic patterns that flow off the page and sing to the reader. With his unique style, Adoff introduces the history and culture of the blues to readers. References to such music greats as Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith, W.C. Handy, Ma Rainey, and others are made. Interspersed throughout the book are paintings by R. Gregory Christie, a Coretta Scott King Honor Award-winner, that capture the suffering and joy of African American life.

This is a book to be savored.

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